South Sydney prop George Burgess runs out against the Knights in Round 3 of the Telstra Premiership.

Maguire refrains from Burgess criticism

A restrained South Sydney coach Michael Maguire has opted not to give his thoughts on a brain explosion from prop George Burgess that could have cost the Rabbitohs two competition points, despite a veiled inference to the team's ill-discipline.

Burgess's first-half elbow to the head of Newcastle Knights lock Mitch Barnett earned the Rabbitohs prop 10 minutes in the sin-bin, in which time the Knights turned a 10-0 deficit into a 10-all arm-wrestle.

The fracas came on the back of Burgess coming up with a simple drop for the second time in the opening 23 minutes, before the England international returned later in the half and appeared to make amends with a powerful try on the stroke of halftime but lost the ball over the line under attention from Sione Mata'utia.

While the Match Review Committee  may yet grade the Burgess incident severely enough to put him on the wrong side of a suspension, there's every chance Maguire – who has already put both Burgess twins Tom and George on notice – may give the 24-year-old his second spell of the year in reserve grade.

"There's still plenty of areas we need to work at - obviously the first half around our discipline there is something we need to look at," was Maguire's assessment of the team's performance in what appeared a thinly-veiled reference to the sin-binning.

Pressed on the incident, he added: "We shouldn't have been in that position. That's an area we'll discuss internally and go through that. The boys had to work extremely hard for that period of time and fortunately we were able to go in at half-time pretty close and capitalise at the back end of that but I thought that Newcastle fought right to the death."

On whether George Burgess specifically needed to work on his discipline, Maguire would only add: "That's a discipline area we talk about internally so we'll go through that but it put us under a lot of pressure so we need to make sure we're a lot better than that."

 


Maguire was more ready with his praise of Saturday afternoon's opponent, with the Knights fighting right to the 80th minute in the 24-18 result.

"Newcastle, credit to them they kept fighting. They turned up and kept fighting right throughout the game and we allowed them to get back into the game for a period of time and it was obviously pleasing our boys were able to fight their way through that but we definitely need to be a lot cleaner than that," Maguire said.

"I think they're a real fighting team and you can see that by the way they've played over the last three rounds, they're a team that wants to compete on every single play.

"With three minutes to go I had the message going down that we need to make sure we're right on our game because they fight for 80 minutes. I'm sure they're going to trouble a lot of teams throughout the season."

Maguire was hopeful halfback Adam Reynolds' shoulder injury was not serious, with the playmaker telling Triple M radio at full-time he suffered what felt like a whiplash injury that gave him neck and shoulder pain, but was able to finish the match.